Getting ready to fight the flu

Today was a wet, wet day; after months of dry, hot weather, a storm hit the Bay Area and it was like the floodgates had opened (I probably shouldn't joke about floods given that half of Metro Manila was under water just a couple of weeks ago). It was a sobering reminder that there's more where that came from, and the cold and flu season is on its way. Just a couple of days ago, I received an invitation from Boiron, a manufacturer of homeopathic products, to discuss the things I do to keep my family healthy during the cold and flu season. I thought it was intriguing that their goal was not to review their product, rather to get a discussion going, so I decided to participate. Besides, I'll take any opportunity to chime in with my opinions.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 things I do to keep the cold and flu virus at bay:

1) Get a flu shot -- Funny that this should be number 1 on my list given that we missed both flu clinics that our doctors' office set up. But we fully intend to get our shots this year. Even though there's a lot of discussion about whether flu shots actually work, whether all this immunization is good for kids, and even all the controversy about the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, I firmly believe that the flu vaccine works. It's just empirical: one year, I don't get a shot and I get the flu. The next year, I get the shot and don't get the flu. Same with Alfie. Same with my aunt. Hmmmmm.....coincidence? I think not.

2) Wash hands -- Pretty simple, huh? Kid with cold wipes snotty nose with grimy hands, then holds doorknob. Five minutes later, my kid holds the same doorknob. Voila, flu city. Had my kid washed his hands, the snotty germs would have been washed away. I'm pretty bad about remembering to ask my kids to wash their hands, but I'm getting better. Anyway, lately they've been coming home with such grimy hands that it's impossible not to ask them to scrub that dirt off.

3) Stay warm and dry-- I know this is sort of an old wives' tale. You don't catch a cold just because you're cold, you catch it because you've been infected with a cold virus. But I think being out in the cold and damp weather weakens your immune system, making it easier to catch cold.

If my kids do catch a cold or the flu, I usually just let it run its course and avoid too much medication, unless the kid is really uncomfortable, in which case I give ibuprofen for fever and a menthol cough drop for a sore throat. I don't find that cough or cold medicines do much to help, but I make an exception at nighttime. I think that getting a good night's rest is a priority, especially when they're sick. Coughing or sneezing keeps my kids awake at a time when it's crucial for them to sleep, so I'm happy to help them sleep with Benadryl or a nighttime cough or cold mixture.

Homeopathic medicines? I've never tried them, and I admit I don't really understand what homeopathy is. According to Boiron, Homeopathic medicines work to stimulate the body's own healing processes and they use natural substances in micro-doses, which sounds quite intriguing and really beneficial. But Boiron's FAQ page didn't really answer the question, and the Wikipedia entry was equally confusing. All that dilution and dosing. Boiron's going to be sending me some samples of their homeopathic remedies for kids, and hopefully it's going to come with some kind of explanation. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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